Organic Agriculture and Perennial Grasses Would Save Lake Winnipeg, the Planet... and Us

As today's article by Baden-Mayer and Cummins says, "We have the technology to save the planet".  We've had it for thousands of years, it's called organic farming. By abolishing factory farms, GMO crop cultivation, and making the transition back organic farming, we could sequester 100 percent of our other greenhouse gas emissions. In addition farm and ranch land can become a significant sink for the sequestration of existing greenhouse gasses, literally sucking excess greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and sequestering them safely in the soil, where they belong.

The opponents are, as always, those who are making money from the current poisonous system. But they're full of it, as Vandana Shiva says, "Biodiverse organic farms produce more food and higher incomes than industrial monocultures. Mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity and increasing food security can thus go hand in hand." An acre of land, farmed using organic methods that include composting and cover crops, can naturally sequester up to 7,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

Forests are another huge potential sink and recycler of CO2. But instead, we burn those forests, releasing huge amounts of previously locked up carbon, to make way for biofuel production and to plant genetically modified crops fed with chemical fertilizers resulting in more CO2 emissions. Our current short sighted, profit driven, decisions may fuel agribusiness profits and financed banker's bonuses but they, our decisions-our choices, also have long term consequences for the survival of our descendants as well as short-term consequences for us now.

An excellent example is Lake Winnipeg which was named last week by the Global Nature Fund as its 'threatened lake of the year' for 2013, saying it is under threat from agricultural run-off and sewage discharges which stimulate large amounts of blue-green algae. Scientists have warned that we needed to decrease the nutrients causing the toxic blue-green algae blooms since 1969. As Alex Salki, chair of the LWF Science Advisory Council says, "Perhaps more than we recognize, Lake Winnipeg has a strong global connection because of its home in Canada’s [and the US's] vast prairie region known as the World’s Breadbasket".

The agricultural runoff and sewage coming from North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba dumps more than 40,000 pounds of phosphorus into Lake Winnipeg each day via the Red River and its watershed. There is a solution, the Perennial Solution. Perennials are thrifty. The long roots of  perennial grasses hold on to soil, water, and re-sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Research has proven that if the world's 8.3 billion acres of pasture and rangelands were transitioned to perennial grasses they would be able to sequester thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide per acre per year and create zero deadly runoffs into the world's rivers, lakes and oceans.

Sounds like an win-win solution, but instead we poison ourselves and our planet by falling for the capitalist-banker lies about the wonders of a better world through chemistry. Don't believe it or them, eat organic, save your compost, start a little garden in your yard or on your balcony. Become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.